“It was like we had been dreaming” (ceb). Sit with this phrase for a moment. We see dreams throughout the Bible, most prominently in Joseph’s interaction with Pharaoh, but they are also mentioned throughout the prophets. Dreams even come up in Peter’s sermon on Pentecost when he recites the prophecy from Joel that “your elders will dream dreams” (Acts 2:17, ceb). Dreams are usually so abstract that they are hard to decipher, but the content of dreams isn’t as important here. The truly important thing is the feeling of dreams, the euphoria of the unexpected and the unimagined coming into existence. The people were so shocked that things could get better that it was no longer a hope, it was a dream.
And then God does it. God changes things and saves the people. In verse 3 the psalmist says, “Yes, the Lord has done great things for us” (ceb). God sees the people in trouble and saves them. The people could never have hoped for such a thing even during their waking hours.
Yet, when we read Psalm 126 more closely, it appears that this salvation has happened in the past; once again the people of God find themselves in dire circumstances. In fact, this is a psalm of lament most likely written after the people have returned to Israel from exile. They have been saved, yet they still need God for more. Their salvation has come in part, but not in full. They celebrate the justice they have received and hope for justice to come.
As we’ve seen throughout this week’s readings, Advent reminds us that the salvation we have received is only a glimpse of the fullness of God’s story. There are more and greater things to come in the person of Jesus, and our salvation will be made complete.
Lord, change our circumstances for the better, like dry streams in the desert waste. Continue your work within us, and lead us to give thanks for your glorious deeds. Amen.
Isaiah speaks of the day in which God’s Anointed One (Messiah) will bring good news to the poor and hope to the oppressed. Jesus will later read this passage and declare it to be about himself (Luke 4), so we read Isaiah’s prophecy during Advent. The psalmist rejoices that God has restored the fortunes of the people. They have come through a period of difficulty, but God has brought them into a place of joy. Throughout Advent, we also look forward to such rejoicing. Paul encourages the Thessalonians to pray continually with an attitude of gratitude and rejoicing, and the God of peace will sustain them. In the Gospel reading, John the Baptist repeats the theme from last week—that he is merely the messenger to prepare the way for the Lord.
Read Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11. God is coming. How do Isaiah’s words of praise and justice inspire you to act in response?
Read Psalm 126. How do you celebrate the justice that you have seen come to fruition while hoping for future justice? How does your anticipation of the fullness of justice affect your faith?
Read 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24. How can you return to the basics of faith during this Advent season?
Read John 1:6-8, 19-28. How is this Advent season both familiar and new for you? How might simple announcements of Jesus’ coming change your experience of the season?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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